Max Verstappen quipped his recovery drive to second in the Qatar Grand Prix "keeps it exciting" after seeing his F1 championship lead cut to just eight points.
Verstappen started seventh after being handed a five-place grid penalty for ignoring double-waved yellow flags in qualifying.
With title rival Lewis Hamilton starting on pole, the Red Bull driver wasted no time in recovering through the order and had climbed to second within five laps after a stellar start was followed up with fine overtakes on Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso.
Securing the fastest lap point late on, Verstappen was able to limit the damage to his championship lead.
“Our starting position was a bit compromised but luckily we had a really good start and from there I was quite quickly back into second so at the end of the day, to get that fastest lap was very nice," said Verstappen.
“Of course, I know it is going to be difficult until the end but I think that is nice. It keeps it exciting.”
After the off-track controversy between Brazil and Qatar, where his racing conduct was brought into question amidst a political battle Verstappen was pleased to have been able to once again do his talking on the track.
“It was good, this track is a lot of fun to drive as well," Verstappen added.
"It is really quick. Also, degradation-wise I think the tyres were holding on quite well so it was cool.
"I feel good. It is going to be a tight battle to the end.”
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